This Ramadhan 5-times prayers in Masjids with face masks, social distancing

Muslims offer Zuhr prayers at the Bund in Srinagar on the first day of Ramadhan, Wednesday, 14 April 2021. [Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir]

Contrary to last year’s Ramadhan when people preferred to stay home for offering Nimaz and Trawih prayers, these days people are attending Masjids five times albeit following COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) and maintaining social distancing.

“Now the people have realised that wearing face masks and keeping social distance will help in curbing the spread of the pandemic,” said Mukhtar Ahmad Wani, who prays at a Masjid five times a day. “The precautions will help in easing an extraordinary burden on the already overwhelmed healthcare system in Kashmir where positive cases are on a rise.”

Wani says that it was part of their new script to keep themselves safe and ensure the safety of their community members in a dignified way, keeping the need of the times in mind.

Iftikar Ahmad, who is a Masjid Committee head, said that the underlying doctrine was that no one wants to go to the hospital.

“These steps are being taken keeping in view the staggering consequences of the disease,” he said. “It is part of the script to keep ourselves safe and ensure the safety of our community members in a dignified manner.”

Ahmad said that in localities around people step out of their homes only when there is an exigency.

“We come to the Masjids for prayers when the Muezzin gives a call for the prayers,” he said. “Due protocol is followed and more than an official directive, we follow SOPs that help us in easing the burden.”

Urging people to wear face masks and maintain social distancing everywhere in Kashmir, the diktat inside the Masjids is: “Maintain Do Gaz Ki Doori”.

“In our Masjid, before the Farz prayers, the Imam Sahab announces whether everybody is wearing a facemask or not and maintaining the distance with the other Nimazees,” said Abdul Haq who attends five times prayers at a Masjid in Barzullah. “Nobody enters the Masjid without a facemask and everybody maintains social distancing.”

Abdul Majid Tamboo of Baramulla said that in the Baramulla town and adjoining areas, committees had been set up by the Masjid heads to ensure that no one enters the Masjid without a facemask and without maintaining social distancing.

Different religious organisations have urged the people to follow the SOPs during Ramadhan and the Ulemas have stressed upon the people to hold special prayers in this holy month seeking refuge from Almighty Allah against the deadly COVID-19 outbreak.

Officials here said that there were no reports of violations during the prayers and other religious gatherings in Kashmir.

“The administration in their respective areas in the districts is in constant touch with the religious heads,” a senior official of the divisional administration said. “There are no violations.”